The Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee, has published the International Protection Modernisation Strategy 2023-2024 which sets out a new a new suite of International protection reform measures.
Minister McEntee said, “a fair, balanced and rules based approach to our International Protection systems means that those who need our help will get it while we also uphold the integrity of our immigration system. These principles are at the centre of our modernisation of the International Protection system, and guide the reforms we are continuing to implement.”
“These include the accelerated procedure for those arriving from safe countries of origin, which I put in place last year. With a large increase in the number of International Protection applications in 2022, a new approach for the 2023-2024 period is set out in the report focusing on increasing outputs in the IPO. This is being delivered by significantly increased staffing and reforms to the application, interview and decision making process. A new target of 1,000 first instance decisions per month by spring 2024 will be adopted, a significant rise over 200 decisions per month made in 2021.”
“While this goal is ambitious, and is well in excess of the target of 290 per month set out in the Catherine Day report, significant progress towards this objective is already being made with 750 first instance decisions per month being reached in June this year.”
The new change programme will be overseen by an International Protection Modernisation Programme Board, chaired by the Deputy Secretary at the Department of Justice with responsibility for Civil Justice.
The Department has allocated a budget of €17.7 million to this work, over €10 million of which will support the recruitment of new staff. Staff numbers have already increased by 66% since December 2022, from 206 to 344 staff assigned. The IPO intends to further increase resources to 430 staff by the end of the year.
These resources will be supported by increased training and quality control support from the UNHCR.
Achieving these key results is dependent upon both an ambitious change programme within the International Protection Office, as well as a set of corporate enablers required to implement such a change programme. In that regard, the International Protection Modernisation Programme 2023/2024 is continuing to set targets and actions to deliver increased outputs.
Minister McEntee this week updated Cabinet on the modernisation programme and also on the accelerated procedure for applicants from safe countries of origin.
Last November, new accelerated procedures for those who arrive in Ireland from safe countries seeking International Protection were introduced.
The changes have ensured that a first instance decision is made within three months in such cases, a significant reduction from a norm of 17 to 24 months last year. The numbers arriving from these countries has significantly decreased.
Since last November, the numbers arriving from these countries have decreased from 210 applications in November to 64 in May this year – a drop of almost 70 per cent.